No rust on Hungary’s Iron Lady
Hosszu enthralls home crowd with wire-to-wire win at worlds
BUDAPEST — With Katie Ledecky getting the night off, Hungary’s Iron Lady seized the moment at the World Aquatics Championships on Monday.
Katinka Hosszu lived up to her country’s enormous expectations with an electrifying victory in the 200m individual medley, spurred on by a flag-waving, foot-stomping crowd at Duna Arena.
The new 12,000-seat facility along the Danube was packed to the rafters, and it was clear who most of the fans came to see.
Hosszu didn’t let them down.
“It’s really hard to put into words what it means to win at home,” she said. “It definitely gives you extra energy and motivation. It was just crazy.”
Hosszu led from start to finish in the race which encompasses all four swimming strokes, finishing off with the freestyle and a time of 2 min, 7 sec.
It was nearly a second slower than her world-record performance at the Rio Olympics last summer, but enough to hold off hard-charging Yui Ohashi of Japan, who settled for silver in 2:07.91.
The bronze went to Madisyn Cox of the United States in 2:09.71, just ahead of teammate Melanie Margolis.
After touching the wall, Hosszu pounded the water, stuck out her tongue and climbed atop a lane rope to acknowledge the raucous crowd.
Her husband and coach, Shane Tusup, pumped his fists and let out a yell.
Hosszu popped out of the water and ran around the deck to embrace Tusup, who handed her a red cap emblazoned with the nickname she received a few years ago for her grueling repertoire of events: Iron Lady.
“This is pretty much how I felt the first time I won,” she said.
Hosszu wasn’t the only big name to claim gold on the second night of swimming.
Britain’s Adam Peaty romped to victory in the men’s 100m breaststroke, while Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom just missed breaking her own world record in the 100 butterfly.
After claiming two golds on Sunday, Ledecky’s lone race was the morning preliminaries of the 1500 freestyle. She breezed through the grueling event in 15:47.57 — nearly 18 seconds faster than secondfastest qualifier Mireia Belmonte of Spain.
It’s really hard to put into words what it means to win at home. It definitely gives you extra energy and motivation.” Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu,
after winning the 200m IM
The final is on Tuesday. “It felt good,” Ledecky said. “I know how to manage the schedule. I just kind of have to work through the prelims as easy as I can to keep myself rested.”
In the semifinals of the women’s 100 breaststroke, Olympic gold medalist Lilly King and Yulia Efimova set up a rematch of their bitter race in Rio, where the finger-wagging American called out her Russian rival for a history of doping violations .
Efimova was the fastest qualifier at 1:04.35 — just onehundredth of a second off the world record — and King was right behind at 1:04.53.
Peaty, who now sports a massive lion tattoo on his left arm, made the turn under his world-record pace from Rio but faded a bit on the return lap to touch in 57.47.
The unquestioned breaststroke king missed his mark of 57.13 yet still turned in the second-fastest time ever in the event.
His ultimate goal is to become the first breaststroker to break the 57-second barrier, a quest he has dubbed ‘Project 56’.
“I’ve a few more 57 races to get down to 56, but I’m just going to follow that curve now and see where I can go,” he said.
The silver went to Kevin Cordes of the US in 58.79 and Russia’s Kirill Prigoda claimed the bronze (59.05). American Cody Miller, the bronze medalist in Rio, finished fifth.
Having already set a world record with her leadoff leg in the 4x100 freestyle relay, Sjostrom nearly took down another mark in the fly with a winning time of 55.53.
That was just 0.05 seconds off her gold-medal triumph at Rio. When Sjostrom saw the time on the scoreboard, she covered her mouth in surprise.
“It felt like I was going a bit slower than I did yesterday actually, so maybe butterfly is about being all relaxed and then you can be even faster,” said the Swede, who didn’t look at all tired a day after racing four times.
Australia’s Emma McKeon (56.18) grabbed the silver and Kelsi Worrell of the US (56.37) settled for bronze.
Seventeen-year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak, a breakout star in Rio with four medals, finished fourth.
Britain earned another gold when Benjamin Proud touched first at 22.79 in the men’s 50 butterfly, a nonOlympic event. Brazil’s Nicholas Santos took silver (22.84) and Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov grabbed bronze (22.84) just ahead of American Caeleb Dressel, who came into the final as the fastest qualifier.
“It wasn’t about winning because I knew five people in the race had the opportunity to win,” Proud said.
“Fortunately, I managed to put my race together, handled my time and it came out quite well.
“It’s a weird feeling because it’s something I’ve been dreaming about for six or seven years.”
Katinka Hosszu of host Hungary reacts after winning the women's 200m individual medley final at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest on Monday.